What’s up with the Economist? I read it every week online, and for a few months now I’ve been aware of a general decline, both in the depth of its analysis and the speed of its response. It’s now 11.45 on the morning after the biggest statement from a British chancellor in a generation, and what do I get from the Economist? A general rehash of the main points, and an enormously trite closing sentence:
Hanging over Mr Darlingâ€™s fiscal statement was the prospect of a general election, which must be held by June 2010. The task of fiscal consolidation will fall to a new government. Almost certainly that government, whether it is Labour or Tory. will find that more harsh fiscal medicine is needed to restore Britainâ€™s public finances to sound health.
No shit, Sherlock. Look, this just isn’t good enough. The Daily Mail’s got better coverage of the PBR than the Economist does, and that really is saying something. Surely economist.com should have been packed to the rafters with goodies today – it’s not like the statement was a surprise. Where are the charts, the waspish thumbnails, the comparison with other economies, the high-minded assertion of free market principles? Where’s the edge? Where’s the beef?
Increasingly, the Economist resembles a very high-end version of The Week – a compendium of international news aimed at the international traveller with little time for the detail and an hour in the airport to fill. This may be sufficient for the non-executive chairman who doesn’t really need to, you know, understand stuff. For the rest of us, Robert Peston’s blog has got more meat on it than the Economist. Oh dear.
UPDATE: Fair play to Andreas at the Economist. He’s jumped into the comments on this post to say they’re listening. That’s why media companies need bloggers.